Scopes Linked To Superbug Infection Deaths In UCLA

Scopes Linked To Superbug Infection Deaths In UCLA


Medical scopes suspected to have spread deadly bacteria have come under scanner after an outbreak at UCLA Medical Center this month.

This is not the first time when the scopes have drawn attention for causing an outbreak. The same type of scopes were blamed for triggering outbreak of antibiotic-resistant superbugs six years ago in Florida, leaving 70 patients infected and causing 15 deaths. The medical scopes which are believed to have spread deadly bacteria are being probed since an outbreak at UCLA Medical Center emerged few days ago.

Steve Huard, a spokesman for the Florida Department of Health, said, “The outbreak in Florida is claimed to be one of a handful now coming to light that states haven’t previously made public. The cases were linked to the same kind of specialized medical scopes, known as duodenoscopes, that was involved in the UCLA outbreak. Patients at two hospitals in Highlands County in central Florida were affected in 2008 and 2009.”

The current outbreak has been reported to the US Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the device manufacturers. The Los Angeles Times has reported that 179 patients at UCLA might have been exposed to the superbug, called CRE. According to the hospital, seven patients in UCLA have been confirmed infected, including two who died.

CRE, which stands for carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, are a family of germs that are difficult to treat because they have high levels of resistance to antibiotics. Healthy people usually do not get CRE infections – they usually happen to patients in hospitals, nursing homes, and other healthcare settings. Infections with these germs are very difficult to treat, and can be deadly—one report cites they can contribute to death in up to 50% of patients who become infected.

FDA warned on February 19 that the complex design of the scopes makes it difficult to effectively clean them. The CDC is now expected to issue new guidelines to prevent further transmissions.